Citigroup and the SEC, Judge Rakoff Has a Few Questions for You

There will be those who believe that it is about time that somebody started asking these kinds of questions. But at the same time, it is worth noting that if companies must admit to wrongdoing in order to settle SEC enforcement actions, or if senior executives’ complicity must be alleged or even established in order for a settlement to be approved, it will be far more difficult for SEC enforcement actions to be resolved. Indeed, one clear implication if more courts start asking these kinds of questions about proposed SEC enforcement action settlements is that fewer cases will settle and more will have to go to trial. Even if more trials would advance the truth-telling function of SEC enforcement, it would also add enormous costs both for the SEC and for the corporate defendants. Whether the SEC could sustain the same level of enforcement activity if it had to absorb the added burdens and expense involved with more trials is one question. The added burden and expense for the corporate defendants presents other questions.

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